Cape Town park to be country’s only blind-friendly park after facelift
A scented garden‚ asphalt bicycle track and bespoke mosaic artwork are among the upgrades to a Cape Town municipal park which‚ when complete‚ will be the only blind-friendly park in the country.
The park is located near the Athlone School for the Blind in Beroma‚ which was started about 100 years ago.
It is scheduled for completion in June and will have cost R1.1-million.
"The design team engaged with the [school] regarding the children's needs and habits. We studied their playgrounds and learnt from their specialist teachers who train the children in mobility‚'' said Brett Herron‚ mayoral committee member for transport.
Some of the park's features include:
- Plants such as lavender‚ wild garlic and rosemary which will give off its distinct scent helping the blind establish where they are in the park;
- A court to play a specially designed blind sport called Goal ball which can also be used by the community for activities such as yoga;
- Rubber matting on the playground to reduce the impact of falls and
- A mosaic mural ''bringing art and stories to life in a tactile way''.
Currently pupils go to places such as a nearby mall where they are taught mobility. Now‚ not only will they be able to use the park‚ they can walk to it. Tactile paving has been installed along the roads to guide them through the suburb.
"The children have very limited opportunities to explore outside the school precinct due to lack of mobility access‚ however now they can explore the whole neighbourhood‚'' said Brendon Johnson‚ project manager for non-motorised transport in the city.
Tamzen Titus‚ the mother of a five-year-old partially sighted child‚ is excited about the project.
"Using social spaces such as parks is a great way to integrate our kids into society. We often hear of parents that hide their disabled kids as they don't want them to be ridiculed‚ but I feel so strongly that by taking our child to the park or on the train is educational for them and to those around them‚'' said Titus.
Landscape architect‚ Samantha Glen‚ loved working on the project and is amazed at how adaptable children are.
"The more they go out the braver they get‚'' said Glen.